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Compiled oy the 


of the 


in the State of Illinois 

Official Sponsor: Division of Department Reports 
State of Illinois 

Cooperating Sponsor: Chicago Library Club 

19 4 
Chicago, Illinois 

John M. Carmody, Administrator 


Howard 0. Hunter, Acting Commissioner 

Florence Kerr, Assistant Commissioner 

Charles E. Miner, Administrator for Illinois 

Evelyn S. Byron, Director Professional and Service Division 

Robert I. McKeaguo, Chief Community Service Section 


western illinois 



H i- fxioi 

This collection of stories about 
Illinois has been selected from a 
large group of similar items that have 
been sent in past months to newspapers 
in the state as a part of the Project's 
information service. Editors and their 
readers have received them so cordially 
that a larger field of usefulness 
seemed to be open to them - supplement- 
ary reading for home study groups and 

State Supervisor 

P A 


F H M 


I S 

Illinois Historical Anecdote 


I HE flooding of a mine near Pinckneyville in 1880 caused a 
temporary phenomenon in the nature of a true geyser, probably the 
only occurrence of this kind in the recorded history of Illinois. 
An account of this event is given in a Pinckneyville newspaper of 
the time. 

Flood wators on 3eaucoup Creek had covered a tract of land 
above the coal mine of Bernhard Blume. A break in the roof of a 
part of the mine suddenly admitted the flood water in great vol- 
ume, "for a short time almost diverting the current of the swol- 
len creek, carrying away whole sections of the rail fence which 
stood near a bank of the creek, many of the rails as well as 
other timber and drift wood being caught in the maelstrom and 
whirled down the capacious throat of the gaping crevasse." 

The sudden inrush of the water "compressed the air in an ex- 
traordinary degree, and the rebound was such that the descending 
flood was forced back as in the action of a geyser, and for sev- 
eral minutes' time heaved skyward in vast quantities to the height 
of at least 100 feet." The upheaval of water, dirt, and drift 
was succeeded by a few minutes of quiet, during which the floods 
again poured down the funnel. The air was again compressed and 
again the geyser-like reaction occurred, higher than before. This 
process was twice more repeated before the mine had been entirely 

All but one of the miners escaped before the break in the 
roof occurred. The Elume mine remained flooded for nearly 39 
years. In 1918 the body of Joseph Heising, which had been pre- 
served by the mineral-laden water, was finally recovered. It lay 
face down on the floor of his room and conditions indicated that 
he had his working place in order. A sack of tobacco and a small 
clay pipe, with a 'heel' of tobacco tightly tamped in it was found 
in the pockets." 

Page One 

Illinois Historical Anecdote 



TIRING early days in Illinois, a person desiring to teach had 
only to find some paying pupils to begin school work. About 1818, 
one teacher announced the opening of a school in Kaskaskia," for 
the instruction of youth in English Literature." 

However, in the event that this subject was considered in- 
adequate scholastic training, he offered to "extend the sphere 
of instruction so as to include the following sciences, viz: 
Heading, Writing, Orthography, Arithmetic, English Grammar, Ge- 
ography, History, Rhetoric Composition, Elocution, etc." 

The teacher concluded by saying he "flatters himself that 
from his attention to the morals and scientific avocations of 
his pupils, he will share no inconsiderable portion of the pat- 
ronage of the judicious and discerning people." 



ICEHESS of the Illinois country in and around Sangamon County 
was known to the Indians long before the white men appeared, 
judging from the nane they gave it. According to one historian, 
the Indian name was " Sangaao , " meaning "the country where there 
is plenty to eat." 

Volunteers in the War of 1812, saw the country for the 
first tine when they marched through it to Peoria Lake, and soon 
after their return home the beauty and fertility of the area 
were often subjects of comment. 

Page Two 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 


I 17, 1800, a total of 2,458 persons lived in the area that 18 
years later became the State of Illinois, according to an histor- 
ian who has studied early census records. In 1810 the population 
was 12,282 and "by 1820 it had soared to 55,152. 

She distribution of population in 1800 was as follows: Port 
Cahokia, 719; Belief ontaine , 236; south end of St. Clair County, 
250; Kaskaskia, 467; Prairie du Rocher, 212; Mitchell's Settle- 
ment near Belleview, 234; Port Massac, 90; Peoria, 100, and bhe 
Illinois side of the Wabash River, about 110. 



Y3HY early, if not the first, collection of hooks for public 
use in Illinois was established in 1318 in Albion. The library 
was begun, it is said, by several lawyers, who fitted out one of 
the rooms in the market house and placed on the shelves their own 
books an well as some sent oj friends and relatives in England. 

Richard Plov/er, the guiding force behind the library in 
one of his letters gave an example of one pioneers' attitude to- 
ward books. A Captain, whori the writer described as "a sensible 
and intelligent backwoodsman," was paying Plower a visit, and up- 
on seeing the lawyer's large private library remarked, "If I was 
to read half of them I would drive all the little sense in my 
head out of it." 

Page Three 


H i s t o 



I IT the early days of Illinois when schools were private insti- 
tutions, financed by parents who wished to educate their children, 
good manners were considered as important as reading, writing, 
and ar i thn otic. 

In 1830 a subscription school in Montgomery County required 
each boy } upon entering the building, to nake a bow, first to the 
teacher, and then to the rest of the school. A gentle and denure 
"curtsy" was expected from girl students. This was considered 
the first step in the making of a polished lady or gentlemen. 

With the advent of free schopls, the formalities of train- 
ing in deportment, politeness, and courtesy was left in other 
hands. That the change, was mourned by nany of the pioneers, be- 
comes evident in a letter written in 1873 by a Killsboro resident 
stating the writer's disappointment in the passing of an art, 
which "however simple the thing may have been, took time and prac- 
tice to do it gracefully." 


I N aLnost legendary figure in the history of Crawford County, 
Illinois, is the Frenchman, La Motto. Tradition has it that when 
the first French settlers came to the region, La Motto was al- 
ready established there, probably as a fur trader, and the only 
white nan in the area. Other than this, little seems to be known 
of his life. 

A fort, a creek, a prairie, a township, and a school were 
named after him. 

Page Four 

linois Historical Anecdotes 


I II 1894 the bath tub v/as introduced as a factor in Illinois 
public education, when one board of education decreed that the 
basements of two schools should be fitted with bath tubs for the 
use of children found by truant officers. 

The board decreed that boys who seemed to be in need of a 
bath were to receive a scrubbing under the supervision of the 
school janitor and that the girls in a similar condition should 
be taken in charge by the women employed as assistant janitors. 


|N 1899 a grouo of Illinois bachelors agreed to marry widows 
only, according to a news item of that year. The club, formed 
in Peoria consisted of 35 members for whom penalties and expul- 
sion were provided for violation of rules. Bachelors who married 
widows with children received a sum of money taken from funds 
collected from fines. 


An abandoned Indian canoe v/as once put into service as a ferry 
accross the Kishwaukee River at Belvidere, Illinois. The make- 
shift ferry, however, did not last long. When a rumor spread 
that the canoe had belonged to Black Hawk, the famous Indian 
chief, souvenir hunters literally tore the craft to pieces. 

Page Five 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 


J IT the early days of Illinois, when settlers were beginning to 
"break the land for the first crops, snakes in large numbers were 
frequently troublesome by-products. When a patch of ground was 
plowed, the reptiles migrated to unplowed sections. Sometimes a 
considerable plot of ground was left in the center of a plowed 
area, to which literally hundreds of snakes made their way. 

Sone early residents tell terrifying stories of the way the 
snakes would break in all directions at the approach of the plow, 
and of the almost unbelievable numbers that were killed before 
the first crop was harvested. Oxen were frequently bitten, but 
seldom scorned to be seriously affected. However, pioneers who 
walked the fields in their bare feet carefully avoided the star- 
tled rentiles. 



LAYING pranks constituted a part of the amusement of Illinois 
pioneers. The account of a group of hunters after 'coon is a 
good example. One of the older men, who became tired, thought of 
a ruse to get some rest and at the same time to have fun with his 
companions. Sharpening a hard stick, he made "bear scratches" on 
the trunk of a large tree in such a way as to indicate that a 
bear had climbed to the high branches. He then shouted to the 
rest, of the group to cut down the tree and to keep their guns in 
readiness. In the meantime he sat down nearby holding the dogs 
and resting. When the tree fell, every one except the prankster 
was mystified not to find the bear. 

Page Six 

Illinois Historical A need 


L ARLY in the history of county fairs in Illinois strength- 
testing contests between rival teams of draft horses were popular 
features, and some remarkable records were achieved. 

In 1837, during a trial-of-strength contest for horses at 
the Montgomery County Pair, according to a Hillsboro news report 
of the title, two teams, weighing 2,024 and 2,500 pounds, respec- 
tively, each pulled two wagons carrying more than five tons for 
a short distance. A rear wheel of each wagon was locked, and the 
ground was loose and slightly rising. 

The article also pointed out that at the Massachusetts 
State Pair held in the same, year, double teams pulled a load of 
5,500 pounds, in addition to the wagon," which weighed 3,355 


Vy HEIT early residents of Ford County, Illinois, learned that 
Sir Richard Paxton, of England, planned to organize a colony and 
settle in Illinois they changed the name of Prospect City to Pas- 
ton in hopes of influencin - : Sir Richard to settle there, it is 

The townspeople were disappointed, however, for Sir Richard 
settled elsewhere. The new name cf the town, however, remained 

P a r: e S e v e a 

Illinois Historical Anecdote 


{ LLINOIS educators of 63 years ago pondered over the problem 
of whether they should spend funds to pay for instruction in a 
subject now commonly called shorthand, but in those days referred 
to as phonography. 

A newspaper report noted that in Cook County "nearly one 
hundred persons have applied for admission to the evening schools 
who intended to acquire a knowledge of phonography. The question 
that arises is, is this study of sufficient importance for the 
county to hire a special teacher to impart the knowledge. 

3efore long, thousands of students were beiig given instruc- 
tion in this subject. 


(^ AMQiBALLS placed between adjoining stones were used by the 

builders of the Macoupin County jail at Carlinville. This unique 

structure, the fourth jail house built there since 1832, has 

proved practically escape-proof because of its mode of construc- 

Page Sight 

Illinois Historical Anecdo 


I U 1885, an ingenious young lad;/ provided a romantic angle to 
Centralia'r. strawberry-packing industry. One day during a few mo- 
ments of leisure the enterprising girl picked up a strawberry box 
and wrote a letter on it. Happily surprised when a reply was re- 
ceived, she continued her strawberry-box correspondence and soon 
had more than a hundred answers from all parts of the United 


|\ EMIKISCIM of the days before the advent of electricity is 
the advertisement of a Springfield man in the Sangamo Journal, an 
early Illinois newspaper, 1832, for a tallow chandler and soap 

Steady employment is promised to any person who can combine 
these two "professions" and complaint is made that "miserable 
candles are now selling at 10 to 12 cents per lb. Hard soap is 
brought from St. Louis, and retails at 12 and a half cents per lb. 

Soft soap is scarce at 6 and a quarter." 

Page -Tine 

Illinois Historical A n e c d o 


I LLI.TCIS farmers have a standard vocabulary, which they use 
when speaking to their domesticated animals, and to try to change 
it is dangerous. In handling horses, the common terras, of course, 
are: "gee," meaning gc to the right; "haw," go to the left; 
"whoa," stop; "get up," or giddap," go forward. 

However, a Jefferson County man, familiar with the army 
commands of "foward," "halt," "right turn," and "left turn," 
taught his colts to respond to these orders. All went well until 
he sold a team to a neighbor. The next day, he was surprised 
when the purchaser, in an irate mood, accompanied by the county 
sheriff, arrived at his farm with the news that he was being sued 
for selling "balky horses" without mentioning the fact. He readily 
explained why the animals "balked," hut load to prove his state- 
ments by making the team respond to his martial terminology be- 
fore the buyer agreed to drop the suit. 



ILDLURS' contests wore popular features in many Illinois com- 
munities during early days- Competitions were often arranged 
among experts from neighboring counties. At one such contest 
held in Charleston, Coles County, in 1899 , six counties were rep- 
resented by 122 fiddlers, according to a news item of the time. 
The nuraeroiis tunes played at this gala event included such favor- 
ites as "Granny Will Your Dog Bite?" and "Fisher's Horn Pipe." 

Page Ten 

Illinois Historical Anecdote 


! HENCE pioneers who lived in old Kaskaskia long before that 
historic community became the first capital of the State of Illi- 
nois, used a distinctive method of building their cabins. Instead 
of the notched-end type of construction commonly used by other 
settlers, the French drove posts well into the ground and braced 
them with cross strips. 

Straw and mortor filled the spaces evenly and as a result 
a finished appearance was given to the building both inside and 
out. Roofs were made of thatch and often extended far beyond the 
edges of the walls. 



ILSNCS proved to be golden for a group of Illinois women in 
1899. In this year, three doubting men offered one dollar each 
to the Ladies' Aid Society of Monmouth, Mercer County, on condi- 
tion that its members would sew for a given length of time at a 
local quilting bee without speaking a word, 

Accepting the challenge, 15 members of the society courage- 
ously plied their needles for three hot, weary hours in silence. 
So impressed were the men with this display of fortitude that 
after the women had finished they paid double, it is said. 

Page Eleven 

Illinois Historical Anecdote 



HE of the earliest Illinois game laws for the protection of 
wild animals and fowls was passed by the legislature in 1853. 
Closed season in a number of counties was from January 1 to July 
20 each year. The fine for killing deer and fawn out of season 
was set at 315; for prairie chicken, quail, and woodcock, $5. 

In 1873, a new game lav; made dealers and others punishable 
if found with game in their possession during the "inhibited sea- 
son." Game from other states or in transit across Illinois was 
not affected by the lav/. 

Six years later, there was further revision,raade to harmon- 
ize with laws of neighboring states. Many persons were said to 
have escaped punishment by claiming that game in their possession 
out of season came from other states. The lav; further allowed an 
11 informer" to receive one-half of the fine collected. 



HE "disciplinary problem" resulting from opening co-education- 
al colleges caused considerable alarm in Illinois 50 years ago. 
Some alarmists may have been heartened by the simple expedient 
used by one of the early co-educational schools. A spokesman for 
this institution declared no regulations were necessary because 
"the young women dcn r t require any, and they discipline the young 
men by their very presence." 

Page Twelve 

Illinois Historical A n e c d o t 



113 of the extraordinary geological features found in Illinois 
can "be seen at Horseshoe, situated on thy northern outlet of the 
Haglo Creek 3asin, Saline County. This phenomenon consists of 
great layers of hard rock standing nearly on edge at various 
points in a huge basin, from which road materials aro being re- 
moved. It is believed, by .geologists, that the some forces which 
heaped up some parts of the ridge bordering 3aglo 3acin, hive 
here raised and turned on edge these layers from a depth of more 
than 200C feet. 


I IT 1039, alert Illinois ov/ners of a steam-powerod ferryboat 
at Alton observed that the engine generated more power than was 
being consumed to propel their craft across the Illinois River. 
3y connecting a pair of millstones to the engine, the industrious 
operators wore able" to grind 200 bushels of fine meal per day" 
during the course of the ferryboat's trijjs, according to a news- 
prsp er account of the time. 

Page Thirteen 

Illinois Anecdote 


I HERE was a time wh^n baseball fielders took their jobs lying 
down and when it was a violation of rules to catch a "fly." "Muf- 
fins" or "Muffs," baseball teams organized solely to -provide 
amusement for spectators, became popular in Illinois in 1867. The 
idea was to "muff" as many plays as possible. 

If a fielder followed the rules of the "muffin" games, he 
sat down when a ball came in his direction and pointed it out to 
other fielders too far away to make the catch. Br>,serumiers always 
ran on foul balls. If a batter accidently hit a "homer," he had 
to be sure to mistake the pitcher's mound for first base so as to 
give his opponents an opportunity to recover the ball before ho 
could run around all the bases. She pitcher had to try to hit 
the bat with the ball, and thus spare the batter unnecessary ex- 


V_y LD Sol played an important role in soap-making during Illi- 
nois pioneer days. Housewives, attending their huge iron kettles 
of soap-in-the-making, believed they must stir the mixture from 
east to '.irest, as the sun apparently moves. If the stirring was 
carried on in any other way, it was believed that the lost 
its cleansing properties. 

The term for this stirring technique was "widdcrshins," a 
variant of withershins, an Anglo Saxon word meaning backward or 
the reverse of the direction in which the sun seems to move. 

Page Fourteen 

Illinois Historical Anecdote 


I LLINOIS' Randolph County, which today is principally an agri- 
cultural and mining area, was once the hub of business, military, 
and governmental operations in the middle west. 

For almost a century, it furnished the "new world" with 
much of its flour, grain, and livestock. It boasted the strongest 
fort, Fort Chartres, which was built by the French in 1720. 

Illinois* first capital, after the territory was organized 
as a state and admitted to the Union in 1818, was Kaskaskia, then 
the leading town in Randolph County. Encroaching waters of the 
Mississippi River, which now completely covers the original site 
of the town, caused the capital to be moved shortly thereafter to 



UNDAY yachting shocked Illinois society when it was introduc- 
ed in 1876, and the participants were for a time severely criti- 
cized. Some critics accused the clubs of conducting "convivial 
gatherings" and said they were carrying on "in the face of public 

Members were even threatened with being tabooed from socie- 
ty and warned they would receive "encouragement only from those 
who practice riotous living," according to newspaper accounts. 

Page Fifteen 

Illinois Historical A n e c d o 


I LLIIIOIS tourists who count, objects along the roadside or name 
various makes of passing automobiles in an effort to break the 
monotony of highway trips hare much in cannon with travelers of 

early times. Pioneer children as well as adults often enjoyed 
games while traveling betv/een communities of the state by stage- 

One of these games, known as "Prairie Loo," was played by 
counting the animals seen from the coach, according to the ob- 
servations of an early Illinois traveler. Bach animal represent- 
ed a certain number of points, such as ten for a wolf and one for 
a prairie chicken. The first person to make a score of 100 won. 
Wild life was so abundant along highways daring those days that 
it was often possible to play several games before noon, it was 


J" OR many years, in the early period of the development of Il- 
linois, wild fowl were so plwntiful thai, they were sometimes a 
nuisance to settlers. Wild geese, swooping down upon wheat fields 
in the vicinity of Nashville, Washington County .became a soriou3 
problem to farmers of the area in 1899. Hunters reported seeing 
the land covered with thousands of the birds, which made easy 
prey. In later times, wild life resources of Illinois seemed 
doomed, but now they are partly restored by enforcement of con- 
servation laws. 

S i x t e 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 



USEyACIIIIIGr, "cordolling," and warping are probably unfimiliar 
terms to many Illinois residents of today, but in early times, 
when travel by keel-boat was common they were used by pioneer 
rivermen to describe various means of propelling their boats. When 
sails \irere inadequate, they traveled by rowing, poling, bushwack- 
ing, " cordelling," or warping. 

If a keel-boat ran close to the shore or the water was high, 
its crew pulled the craft forward by tugging at bushes that grew 
near the bank — bushwacking, so to speak. Cordelling was accoa- 
plished by men along the bank who towed the boat by means of a 
long rone attached to the mast. 

When such methods as these yere impractical, as in crossing 
rapids, a member of the crew walked ahead on land and fastened 
one end of the rope to a tree or rock, leaving the other end 
loose on the keel-boat. Men aboard the craft pulled the line from 
bow to stem, repeating the operation, called warping, as many 
times as was necessary to get the boat across. 



RIIT3ING fans implements into Illinois during pioneer times 
was often a discouragingly difficult task, and many early settlers 
experienced severe hardships in transporting them from one place 
to another. Because of the scarcity of skilled labor, long trips 
were sometimes made for repairs. One historian has recorded that 
some farmers traveled 50 or 60 milus on horseback with their plow 
shares to hive them properly reconditioned. 

Page Seventeen 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 



MONO' the huge Government land grants offered as bounties to 
soldiers who fought in the War of 1812 as the Military Tract in 
Illinois. This land, "between the Illinois and Mississippi Rivers, 
comprised some 3,500,000 acres, most of which had been surveyed 
by the end of 1818. 

With the tide of immigration towards the northern part of 
the state in 1830, large numbers of settlers moved into the Tract 
to make homes. 3y 1831 there were approximately 10,000 people 
in the southeastern part of the area, which included Calhoun, 
Pike, Adams, Schuyler, and Pulton counties. An additional 2,000 
inhabitants lived in other sections of the Military Tract, chiefly 
in Hancock, Knox, and Henry Counties. There had been Issued 17,075 
patents for 2,831,840 acres of land oy 1837. 


I HE forerunner of Teachers' Institutes in Illinois was a com- 
mon school convention held in Chicago in 1846, which seems to 
have been the first Teachers' Institute held in the state. 

A quarter of a century later the organization had grown to 
such proportions that a County Institute of November, 1871 re- 
ported "130 lady teachers and 30 gentlemen teachers in attend- 
ance." On July 16, 1891, Marion, Williamson County, was host to 
103 teachers who attended an institute at which arrangements were 
made for similar institutes in every township in the county. 

Page Eighteen 

Illinois Historical Anecclo 



EE1T golf first won the hearts of feminine players in Illinois 
about 1901, style in attire seems to have made up for lack of 
skill in the game. Freedom and comfort were successfully barred 
by the high starched or boned collars, leg-o~mutton sleeves, and 
long skirts that swept the grass. 

notwithstanding these hazards records show that the game 
was followed with high enthusiasm. At Danville, for example all- 
day excursions to the links became popular. Women left for the 
courses early in the morning, taking the family horse and buggy 
and a noon-day lunch. 

ITone of the scores of these early matches seem to have been 
of enough importance to record but reporters of the period noted 
that "balls frequently went astray and hit the horses, sometimes 
narrowly averting accidents. 


LyUBISG a recent study of Illinois customs, research workers 
learned of a way to eat peas which they believe is original. One 
resident made metrical explanation of his very special method of 
consuming peas: 

I eat peas with honey; 
Done it all my life. 
Makes the peas tasto funny, 
But keet)s them on my knife. 

Page IT i n e t e 

Illinois Historical Anecdot 



'USING the late I860' s and the early 1870' s widespread inter- 
est in reading led to the founding of a number of public libra- 
ries in Illinois. 

Organized in 1867, the Ladies' Auxiliary Library Associa- 
tion of Pekin, Tazewell County, at length became the nucleus for 
a public Library. In 1872, Elgin voted a tax of three-fourths of 
a mill on each dollar's worth of taxable property for the pur- 
pose of building a public library. 

A theatrical performance known as "The Drummer Boy" was 
staged in Bloom ington, McLean County, in 1873 to provide funds 
for the Ladies' Library, which already had achieved the reputa- 
tion for being ; 'a most flourishing institution." In the same 
year a library was added even to the Beards town jail in Cass 
County. The public library at Peoria was reported as having ac- 
quired 8,534 volumes in 1874. 


I LLINOIS pioneers often constructed ingenious devices to off- 
set their lack of modern conveniences. One of these, a large 
grindstone, was made years ago by an early settler of Brooks 
Grove, McHenry County, who applied sand and gravel to the outer 
surface of a disc from a freshly cut tree and allowed the abra- 
sive mixture to dry into the green wood. When this crude grind- 
stone was made to revolve, "an axe could be sharpened or scratch- 
ed, and something of an edge given to it," according to an ac- 
count of 1874. 

Page Twenty 

Illinois Historical Anecdot 


L LECTIOH news traveled on skates in 1339, according to an anec- 
dote told by a Rock Island resident. Word that General Andrew 
Jackson had been elected president arrived on a December day at 
Fort Armstrong, which was located on the present site of the Rock 
Island Arsenal. J. W. Spencer, a mail carrier, was offered $5 
in gold to carry the news to Galena. He accepted the sum, skated 
up the Mississippi River, and arrived at his destination without 



IGHWAY markers, it is believed, were first used in Illinois 
along the historic Kellogg' s Trail from Peoria to Galena in 1827. 

Numerals showing distances were carved into trees along the 
trail and covered with red paint to make for better visibility. 
This famous road has been referred to as the first highway en- 
tirely made by pioneers in northern Illinois. 


I H 1910 the horse and buggy came in second in a maintenance 
contest with the automobile. An automobile of the time, it was 
asserted, operated at a cost of one and four-fifths cents per pas- 
senger mile, but the horse and buggy cost two and one-half cents 
to cover the same distance. 

Page Twent y-0 n e 

Illinois Historic. -il A n e c d o 


I LLI1T0IS tourists who are accustomed to traveling in stream- 
lined trains, motor buses, and automobiles may read with interest 
accounts of the inconveniences of travel during earlier times. 
According to one pioneer's record of a stagecoach journey across 
the Illinois prairies in midwinter, a group of travelers began 
their trip on a morning in January, 1834, in a four-horse car- 
riage, but abandoned the coach for a sleigh at the first station 
because of huge drifts. 

Because the horses made their way through the snow with 
great difficulty, another team was added the next day. Later, 
after a complete Changs of horses had been made, the passengers 
twice escaped disaster when the animals broke through ice in 
crossing streams- Finally the driver was plunged knee-deep in 
water i and reached a farm house just in time to save his frost 
bitten feet. 


Vv A5SHHBL0HS were known to have been grown in Illinois long be- 
fore the coming of white settlers. Records of both Father Mar- 
quette and Louis Jolliot mention the excellent melons that were 
known to the Illinois Indians. 

In the course of the years, Illinois acreage set aside for 
the popular fruit has varied. During 1933, a notable year for 
its production, growers here devoted 8,800 acres to its cultiva- 

Page T w e n t y-T w o 

Illinois Historical An 



HREE years before Illinois "became a state, rates for forry 
service across the Wabash River at Palmyra were established. A 
court order of 1815 stipulated that charges should be for" each 
wheel of a cart, carriage or wagon, 18 and three-quarters cents; 
and each horse drawing the same, 12 and one-half cents. For every 
man and horse, from the first day of December until the last day 
of May inclusive, be 25 cents; and from the first day of June un- 
til the last day of November , inclusive, be 12 and one-half cents 
and each head of sheep and hogs, 3 cents. 

Poor weather conditions during the winter months, it has 
been explained, account for the higher passenger rate from Decem- 
ber to May. 



USING the course of nearly a century the old Logan County 
courthouse at Mount Pulaski, has had a varied history. It was 
built in 1847 at a cost of $3,000 and served its original purpose 
until 1853. The county seat was then moved to Lincoln. In 1857, 
whsi Mount Pulaski needed a schoolhouse, the idle courthouse was 
assigned for this use by the General Assembly, until a modem 
school building was erected* 

At length it was designated as the town's Post's Office. In 
1936, however, the postal department was moved to new quarters and 
later the widely known old structure was presented to the State 
of Illinois as an historical monument. 

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Illinois Historical Anecdotes 



STIRRIITG chapter in the story cf Illinois tells of a famous 
rider, who, like Paul Revere, sped through the night to summon 
help. Ee sought assistance, however, not to oppose the Redcoats, 
Out to defend a "brave group of pioneers imperiled "by Indian war- 

The hero was Gordon Hub "bard, first white settler in Iroqpuis 
County and a widely known fur trader of his day. Ihe time was 
1827, and the place, a small outpost at the foot of Lake Michigan 
that had "been named Chicago. 

One day Hubbard's business of bartering pelts was interrupt- 
ed by word of an imminent attack by the powerful Winnebago tribe. 
Hubbard, at once, volunteered to go to Danville for help. He rode 
hard over the 130 miles of wildness trails, crossed many un- 
to ridged streams, and reached Danville the next day. Hurriedly 
raising 50 men, he returned to aid the threatened settlers only 
to learn that the Winnebago Indians signed a trace and the danger 
was over. 



CCCRDING to old Illinois settlers in and ao->ut the hamlet of 
Rice near Pinkneyville, Perry County .pioneer farmers often drove 
their flocks of turkeys on foot to -the market at St Louis, 70 
miles away. For many voars after th- community was established 
in the 1830' s, there were no adequate nearby marketing centers. 

"Butchering day" was a community affair throughout the re- 
gion, and all surplus dressed pork was shipped oy wagon to St. 
Louis, where it was sold frequently for only three and four cents. 
a pound. 

Page T w e n t y -Four 

Illinois historical Anecdotes 



OURISTS in Illinois who observe that cupolas adorn many homes 
along the Mississippi River in Madison County, learn with inter- 
est that his architectural detail was designed more for utility 
than for decoration. 

During the days when Alton vied with St. Louis as a river 
port, so it is related, crack steamboats raced from St. Louis to 
Alton to win the rich lead of freight which usually awaited the 
first steamer that docked. As a consequence, the; outcome of these 
contests became marked features in the life cf the townsfolk, who , 
in many instances, built lookout platforms on their homes from 
which thev could watch the races. 

In time, these platforms, which at first were plain and cir- 
cular, became ornate by the adding of octagonal cupolas. Finally, 
it is said, they were so highly regarded as features of local ar- 
chitecture that some Alton citizens continued to build them after 
the river races had ceased. Many cf them, indeed, were built on 
houses far from the river, and as a result the influence of the 
cupola is cemmonly found throughout Madison County. 



ERHAPS the longest burning fire in Illinois history, occurred 
in pioneer days at Quincy. An old saw mill along the shore cf 
Quincy Lower Bay caught fire. As facilities were inadequate to 
fight the blaze, it was allowed to run its course. Smoke could 
be seen arising from the ruins for a quarter of a century, it is 

Page Tv.-ent y-F i v e 

Illinois Historical Aneciot 


p UMPKIN' coaches" rolled out of the pale of fancy to become 
realities in Illinois during 1838 when a number of giant vege- 
tables were produced in the state. Newspaper accounts of that 
year tell of products almost fabulous in size. 

Among the vegetables which made news in that time, were two 
pumpkins, one weighing 143f pounds, and the other, 122 pounds. The 
heavier one measured six feet and two inches in circumference. 
Honorable mention, so to speak, was also given to a beet, 3 feet 
and 4 inches in length, 23 inches in circumference, and 21 pounds 
in weight; two bunches of celery, each 3 feet and 6 inches in 
length, and a cabbage weighing 19 pounds. 


I N 1894, Illinois grain merchants refused to permit their hold- 
ings to go to some foreign markets even with free transportation. 
lor a time, a number of steamships sailing out of Baltimore were 
in need of ballast for their eastward trip and their owners of- 
fered to carry grain free to Antwerp and other European markets. 

However, the offer did not affect the grain surplus in this 
part of the country because the market at home was high enough to 
make the sales unprofitable even when transportation was free. 

Page T w e n t y-S i x 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 


I T is said that sparrows taught an Illinois inventor an im- 
portant lesson in the field of aviation. Octave Chamite a Peoria 
resident, it is related, observed how the little birds turn their 
tails downward to increase air resistance when stopping their 
flight. The result was the "tail low" theory of landing air- 

Chanute made several other contributions to aviation. Among 
them was the Chanute Biplane, a motorless glider, which v/eighed 
only 23 pounds and could carry 178 pounds at 23 miles per hour. 
In 1889, when Chanute was 60 years of age, he arranged what has 
been called the first successful glider demonstration in the 
United States at Dune Park along Lake Michigan. 



ANY of the early fields in Illinois presented a "dismal ap- 
pearance," according to an account written in 1819. A traveler 
of the time observed that frequently settlers cleared the ground 
by grubbing up small trees only. Large ones were either cut down 
to within three feet of the ground or merely "chopped around the 
stems," and a small strip of bark peeled off. Decay then was left 
to take its course and the land owners were saved the trouble of 
cutting down the trees. 

When the underbrush, roots, and smaller trees were burned 
where they lay, the fire often spread to the larger standing 
trees- In some areas, a visitor could commonly see about one hun- 
dred half burned trees to each eight or ten acres under cultiva- 

Page Twent y-S even 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 


L ARLY residents in Illinois, who came from many racial groups, 
brought to communities throughout the state a wide variety of 
folklore. Survivals of these beliefs are always important to the 
scholar and interesting to tourists and other visitors. 

In Pike County, for example, some persons still hold that 
when a circle seems to he around the moon, a storm will follow. 
Tho exact number of days before its arrival can be determined by 
counting the stars within the circle. 

Fish that get into ponds from larger bodies of water some- 
times find they are trapped when the water level rapidly falls. 
They need not worry, it is thought, because low water simply means 
that higher water is just around the corner. 

One fisherman still holds that rabbits may have a direct 
bearing on good luck for the hook and line. He is of the opinion, 
it is said, that fortune favors the person, who, as he proceeds 
to his favorite fishing spot, keeps turning his hat half way 
around each time he spies a rabbit. 



ARLY growers of fruit and cereals in Illinois probably never 
thought that the day would come when experts working for the 
State could tell how much stem and leaf tissue was destroyed annu- 
ally by insects. However, their successors generally know now 
that they can get this information, as well as much more import- 
ant data about hazards to their crops , for records of the Natural 
Survey now cover nearly twenty years. 

Page Twent y-E i g h t 

Illinois Historical Anecdote 


I OH many years Illinois skating enthusiasts looked forward to 
the great and gay ice carnivals held regularly on the Chicago 
River. For over a mile "beyond the historic Rush Street Bridge, 
great crowds gathered about bonfires and made merry far into the 

Celebrated skaters sometimes came from distant points. One 
record of 1859 mentions visitors from Hew York state and Canada. 
In addition to providing an ideal course for skaters and specta- 
tors, the fine stretch of ice was ideal for horse racing. 


L ARLY white settlers in Illinois sometimes enlisted the help 
of Indians in constructing their log houses and were prepared to 
meet their terms. When a Warren County physician decided tc build 
a home, he enlisted the help of several Indians encamped in near- 
by woods. Their terms were strictly cash on delivery. After each 
log had been properly placed they were paid. The house, eight 
logs high, was completed in about a week. 

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Illinois Historical Anecdotes 


A ?T3 

ETEH spending several years as engineer on Mississippi steam- 
boats, manufacturer of building supplies in Wisconsin, and wagon 
master conveying supplies to forts in the west, Absalom O.Edison, 
cousin of the famous Thomas A. Edison, made his permanent home in 
Martinton, Iroquois County. Ee was horn in Canada in 1830. After 
establishing a v/agon shop in Martinton, he engaged in carpentry 
and housebuilding, and was, in turn, justice of the peace, town- 
ship assessor, highway commissioner, constable, school director, 
and school trustee. 



i\ IITAUD, now a village of about one hundred person,; in Wayne 
County, is said to have had its beginning; in J :hu promise of a 
side track through the proposed site if several thousand bushels 
of oats could be secured for shipment. The community was named 
after Adam Rinard, one of two men who agreed to shir, the grain. 

Page - :. i r t y 


Illinois Historical Anecdotes 


j PECTACULAR changes that have taken place in certain communi- 
ties of this state since Civil War days. The pattern followed in 
that of lowly "beginnings, accelerating rise, boom prosperity and 
then decline — typical of practically all growth curves. These 
instances illustrate, as nothing else can, some of the effects of 
rapid technological development in America during the past cen- 
tury, in terms of social change. 

One outstanding example comes from Galena, Illinois. It is 
a story of lead mining. Each stage of this major local industry 
— early promise, "boom, and decline — is reflectod in the for- 
tunes of the city as an institution, and in the lives of its 

Because of deposits of galena (lead ore) in the surround- 
ing hills, Galena became one of America's earliest boom towns. As 
early as 1826, when Chicago was only a swamp village, it was a 
tumultuous outpost, populated by miners, trappers, traders, gam- 
blers, and river men. In 1841 the population was 2,225. Steady 
development of lead mining, growing markets for the product, and 
improving transportation facilities through the thirties and 
early forties gave promise to this pioneer city of over-soaring, 
never-ending prosperity and growth. Maximum lead production was 
attained there" in 1845, with more than 27,000 tons from twenty- 
three smelters, as against 32,500 tons for the whole country. 

At this point the rate of production leveled off, and after 
a few years entered upon a continuous decline. As the easily ac- 
cessible surface diggings were worked out, the expense of sinking 
deeper mines increased. Competition from other parts of the coun- 
try was on the increase. Profits diminished. Production fell 
off. By 1860 the population had dropped to 10,000. Today the 
smelters are in ruins and lead mining as an industry is of negli- 
gible importance. Galena, now a city of less than 4,000 inhabit- 
ants, has long since learned to sustain itself and prosper \i.thout 
dependence on the lead mines. 3ut the reminders of mining days 
still give it special interest and distinction. 

Page Thirt y-1! w o 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 

Another vanished industry of early Illinois is that of salt 
production, principally at what were known as the Gallatin, Big 
Muddy, and Vermillion salines (salt springs or wells). Accounts 
of old settlers represent the Vermillion salines just west of 
Danville as having been worked by the Indians as early as 1750, 
after which they had "been lost. Researchers of present-day ar- 
chaeologist, however, indicate that salt production had boon car- 
ried on here by prehistoric people. By the year 1824, the springs 
had beon rediscovered, and were in possession of one Captain 
Blackman. By him they were sold in that year to J.W. Vance, who 
proceeded to develop then. For this purpose he brought forty-four 
kettles by boat and oxcart from Louisville. 

Each hundred gallons of this brine yielded, upon evapora- 
tion, about one bushel of dry salt. This was distributed by boat 
and wagon to local buyers as far west as the Sangamon and Illi- 
nois rivers. With the discovery of brine on the Kanawha River, 
and the opening of the Chicago River to lake vessels, competition 
and technological progress eliminated the salt industry, so far 
as Vermillion County was concerned. 

At the Gallatin salines, in the southeastern corner of Gal- 
latin County, nine furnaces of sixty kettles each are said to have 
been in regular operation, producing more than 3,000 bushels of 
salt per week, or 130,000 bushels per year — deducting for lost 
time. The salt sold at the works for thirty-seven to fifty cents 
per fifty-pound bushels. 

The Big Muddy salines were in the vicinity of Brownsville 
in Jackson County, where there were two factories, one operated 
by Conrad Will and the other by a firm of ITlelsons. The Will 
plant produced from a hundred to a hundred and fifty bushels per 
week, pumping its water through a copper tube from a depth of 203 
feet. The Nielsons produced fifty to sixty bushels in a twenty- 
four hour period, and pumped their water from a four hundred foot 

Page Thirt y-T h r a o 

Illinois Historical Anecdot 

An example of an industry that committed suicide, through 
the dissipation of irreplaceable natural resources, is that of 
lumbering in the cypress swamp of Johnston County. Here, as late 
as 1885, stood a 100,000 acre tract of virgin forest in which 
bald cypress trees predominated. The species of cypress that grew 
here has no taproot, and the numerous branch roots join several 
feet above ground to form a solid trunk measuring four feet or 
more in diameter. Many of these trees towered 150 feet above the 
swampland. The lumbermen who entered the swamp came in boats , 
cut the trees several feet above ground, and floated them to the 
sawmill. Between 1885 and 1900, the entire forest was felled. 
Today only isolated cypress trees remain. 


I LLINOIS pioneers frequently depended upon the direction of 
the wind to guide then across the uncharted prairies. After no- 
ting the point from which the wind was blowing, they plotted 
their route in accordance with it. However, if the wind jhangoi 
they were in danger of becoming lost, especially during the night. 
Travelers often welcomed the sight of lights that many early set- 
tlers regularly placed ^s beacons in cabin windows or on poles. 

Page Thirt y-F our 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 



IVALRY, sometimes "bitter and other times friendly, enlivened 
the days of tavern owners in pioneer tines. Resourcefulness play- 
ed its part in getting customers for meals and lodging, and trav- 
elers had many a good laugh over the devices tavern keepers used 
to get "business. 

In one instance the main road broke into two branches for 
a short distance. Each branch had its tavern and a problem for 
the owner was how passersby could be made to take one fork or 
the other. It is reported that all went merrily until one propri- 
etor started cutting down trees so that they fell across the road 
leading by the tavern of his neighbor. 

Other owners made much of signs and the drawings on some 
are said to have made up in humor what they lacked in skill. One 
sign, it is related, was supposed to represent an eagle, but those 
who saw it generally agreed that it looked more like a turkey. An- 
other sign supposed to portray a lion, looked very much like a 
prairie wolf, according to the artistic judgment of most persons 
who saw it. 


I LLINOIS, in early days and for some years thereafter, follow- 
ed the practice of the times in permitting children to be "bound 
out" to tradesmen and farmers who would give them training for 
their life work. Some boards of County Commissioners ruled on 
such agreements. In one instance, records for the year of 1829 
show that a two year old lad was bound to an Illinois fanner un- 
til he is 21 years of age "to learn the occupation of farmer. "Two 
girls, one four and the other eight, according to the same record, 
were bound out until they had become of age - 18 years old. 

Page Thirt y-F i v 

Illinois Historical Anecdote 


I H southeastern Illinois, where important chapter:} in the 
state's history were written long before nuch of the central and 
northern portions had been settled, the village of Wool prospered 
for nany years as a widely known community on the nail route be- 
tween Grantsburg and Golconda. 

Its resourceful and public ninded citizens knew that the 
village naae honored General John E. Wool, 1789-1869, who had 
served with distinction in the War of 1812 as well as later under 
Zachary Taylor during the Mexican War. However, visitors and 
others, ignorant of the origin of the name, jcked about it and 
sometimes associated it with a clearing point for fleeces. As a 
result, agitation was started to make a change. 

At length, it was agreed to re-name the community Brovn- 
field.partly in honor of the deceased husband of the postmistress 
at that tine, and partly in honor of Lewis Field, a popular young 
nan associated with Brown in his nercantile business. All went 
well until the first railroad to enter Pope County decided to es- 
tablish a station one mile and a half southeast. Mrs. Brown 
quickly offered to give land for a portion of the right of way if 
the new station would be called Brownfield. This arrangement was 
approved. The original, historical village became known as Old 
Brownfield, and the new community with its transportation ad- 
vantages became a center of important influences in the develop- 
nent of the area. 

Page Thirt y-S i x 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 



HEN Illinois became a state in 1818, its pioneers at some 
points in the south, could purchase a wide variety of fine manu- 
factured goods, most of which had come from large eastern centers, 
such as Baltimore, Philadelphia, and Pittsburgh. 

In one account of those early times, an advertisement is 
noted of a merchant at Carmi in White County, who was opening a 
new store. Among the articles he offered were tea kettles, ivory 
and common combs, silk handkerchiefs, India muslins, stationery, 
window glass, sieves, grindstones, hand saws, dutch ovens, frying 
pans, "and a great variety of cutlery." 

Another early advertisement shows that settlers could find 
a market close at home for some of their own products. One store- 
keeper announced that he would pay cash for "tallow, candle cot- 
ton, turnips, soft flax for. wicks, onions, parsnips, carrots, 
venison, hams, butter, cheese, eggs, potatoes, hops, sage, and 
twilled bags." 



OIL of many Illinois counties gave remarkable yields of grain 
years ago. The Montgomery County Herald on Aug. 8, 1357, reports 
that Moses Berry threshed out 708 bushels of oats from 12 acres 
and "not all the grain was threshed so it ran not less then 60 
bushels to the acre." 

The market report for 1857 from the town of Hillsboro list- 
ed oats at 40 cents a bushel and corn at 50 cents. Eggs were 
eight cents a dozen. 

Page Thirt y-S eve 

Illinois Historical Anecdote 



many routes were suggested for the Hennepin Canal, from 
the Illinois River near Hennepin to the Mississippi, that five 
in all were surveyed before one was finally selected. 

The first survey, made in 1866, was followed by others in 
1870, 1874, 1884, and in 1885-1886. The route eventually chosen 
was that by the way of Penny's Slough and the Rock River. Al- 
though construction work began in 1892, the entire 77-mile 
length of the Hennepin Canal was not open for use until 1907, 
when the project was completed at an estimated total cost of 

For some 50 miles the waterway, which is known also as the 
Illinois and Mississippi Canal, follows the Rock Island route 
and then joins the Rock River near Dixon to flow into the Mis- 
sissippi River over this 27-mile feeder. 



iN early Illinois traveler, writing of his journeys, deplored 
the retarding influence of land speculators on the growth of the 
state. He pointed out that frequently "land jobbers" would 
watch the establisment of new settlements and wherever any gave 
promise of prospering, they would purchase great blocks of prop- 
erty and hold them for a price. 

Frequently, the visitor pointed out, now settlers would 
not be able to pay the prices asked and would have to be content 
to buy property some distance from the community they wished to 
be in or near. As a result, population tended to be scattered, 
and backwoods customs had to be maintained for a much longer 
time than would have been necessary if communities could have 
advanced in a unified way. 

Page Thirt y-E i g h t 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 



OME years ago Illinois residents who found themselves in need 
of a shave or a hair cut sometimes engaged in heated arguments at 
the barter shop because they were not sure who was "next." Fre- 
quently long lines of customers waited their turn, and it was not 
uncommon for several of them to leave for a short time, possibly 
to visit nearby friends, or to place an order at the general 
store. Sometimes when these men returned to claim their place in 
line they discovered that they had to begin all over again. Argu- 
ments naturally resulted, some of which are reported to have been 
far from gentle. 

In view of these distressing circumstances, an inventive 
resident of Pelcin decided that man's ingenuity could be used to 
avoid misunderstanding as to whose turn it was with the barber. 
He made a circular shaped indicator with a dial and numbers on 
it, controlled from within the barber shop, and placed it so that 
it could be plainly seen from the main window. 

When a customer entered, instead of sitting in line, ho 
would be given a number. Then, he could go his way, and a short 
time before the barber was ready for him the pointer would indi- 
cate that it was his turn. A newspaper account of the time stated 
that the invention would "make everything serene hereafter in the 
parlors of the artists tonsorial." 


IN the early days of settlement in Illinois, advertisements 
entitled "wife wanted" were not uncommon in the pioneer press. 
Sometimes the wording of the advertising was exceedingly specific. 
One instance to illustrate this point occurred in a notice which 
announced that if any girl were interested, she should possess a 
skillet as well as ability to make a hunting shirt. 

Page Thirt y-U i n o 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 


L ESS than 100 years ago illumination in nany honos and places 
of "business in Illinois was "by lanps filled with castor oil. In- 
deed, this type of lighting was so popular that it war; preferrod 
over all others in sone parts of the state. 

A writer of the tine stated in the Jacksonville Journal , 
"It nay not be generally known that castor oil, is "better for 
lanps than spern or lard oil, which is the fact. Sone years 
since, when this oil was cheaper than either of the others, the 
editors of that paper used it in their parlor lanps, much pleased 
with the result; it is a white, clear, "beautiful light, and does 
not clog the wick." 

The source of the oil was the castor bean, then grown con- 
nonly in southern Illinois, where nild temperatures were suitable 
for its proper development. 



ARLY ordinances in Illinois affecting the use of automobiles 
showed that City Fathers were determined to loave no stone unturn- 
ed to protect both driver and pedestrian. Indicative of the 
spirit of the tines, traffic regulations in Moliue restricted the 
speed of automobiles to one nile in six minutes. 

If an automobile was drii-en at night, the owner had to dis- 
play proninently at least one lantern "throwing a white light in 
front, and the rear of the car had to carry a lantern throwing a 
red beam." Purchasers of automobiles were required to register 
them with the City Clerk. 

In one instance, a fee of $1.00 was char-red, for which the 
owner of the car received a metallic tag. He was required to dis- 
play it on the rear of his automobile. 

Page Fort ;/ 

Illinois Historical Anecdot 



IOIEER days in Illinois were accompanied by a variety of tra- 
ditional tunes that enlivened the hours of work and leisure of 
many early builders of the state. 

To the historian the raftsmen's music is of special signi- 
ficance as it is an important feature of the social scene. It 
lias been learned that practically every commercial craft operat- 
ing on the stream had its fiddler, upon whom depended most of the 
entertainment during the long trips of trading and transport. 
Indeed, one authority points out that fiddlers were considered to 
bo as important as cooks. 

During the years of early settlement, with many rafts mov- 
ing up and down the Mississippi, settlers along the Illinois 
shore became familiar with traditional tunes, such as "One-eyed 
Hiley" and "Louisiana Gals." Aboard the rafts, these songs were 
generally accompanied by vigorous slapping of the floor with the 
bootsoles of the crew. 


I LLIHOIS residents in the southeastern part of the state were 
startled in October, 1891, by a severe earthquake that created 
unusual conditions in several communities. Residents at Carroll- 
ton reported that a deep artesian well serving the community had 
stopped flowing. 

It was discovered that the pipe bringing the water to the 
surface had been broken and sand had become so firmly packed a- 
gainst the lower valve that the pump refused to work. Other por- 
tions of this area reported similar havoc affecting the water 

Page Port y-0 n e 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 



HEN Illinois pear and apple trees by the thousands became 
the victims of a terrible blight in the 1850' s, experts discovfip- 
ed that an insect discernable only under the microscope was to 
blame. Growers whose orchards load been severely affected watched 
anxiously as extraordinary efforts were made to check the blight. 

A report of the time tells of experiments with "soap, lye, 
ashes, lime, copperas, sulphur, plaster, tobacco, spirits of tur- 
pentine, coal tar, charcoal, assafoetida, and a whole apothecary 
shop of other drugs." So troublesome was the pest that it was 
referred to "as the pear devil." 



SLIEF in the gentle art of housekeeping might have led a num- 
ber of Illinois homemakers some years ago to adopt "Home, Sweet 
Home" as a theme song. These enthusiastic ladies were of the o- 
pinion that if business and professional demands required trained 
personnel, the home also needed skill gained through study. 

As a result a "housekeepers' short course" was introduced 
at the University of Illinois in 1904, and from the very first 
day it proved to be popular. The enrollment increased steadily, 
and by its sixth year included 175 homemakers. 

Page 7 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 



CCORDIITG to historical accounts, visiting weather men to Il- 
linois could find no better place for a holiday than Logan County 
Here, both tradition and records tell of meteorological phenomena 
which, in some instances at least, still remain subjects of amaz- 
ing nari-atives. 

To begin with, the "great snow" began to fall in Uovember, 
1830, and continued through February 2, 1831, after isolating 
hundreds of settlers who found travel blocked because cf 3-g- feet 
of snow- Drifts were as high as houses. However, by way of con- 
trast, the following winter was exceptionally mild. One histor- 
ian reports that on January 5, 1833, "frogs croaked in the water 
pools, grass was green, and May apples were shooting up several 

In 1836 the "big freeze" froze chickens in their tracks; 
in 1844 high waters covered the land from spring to June; in 1883 
a sleet storm took a stupendous toll from groves and orchards. 

If the weather men desire further surprises, they may be 
interested to hear accounts both of the summer of 1869 when the 
temperature, it is related, rose to 135 degrees, and of January, 
1928, when the official reading of thermometers in Lincoln showed 
the mercury had dropped to 35 degrees below zero. 


I IT 1892 when several newly married couples in Illinois looked 
over their wedding gifts they were astonished to find tickets 
for balloon rides. They decided to use them not withstanding an 
additional gift in the shape of a grim note sent by a firm that 
made tombstones, which volunteered to furnish its products free 
should the couple need thenw 

Page Fort y-T h r e 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 


J OME Illinois residents in the 1850' s felt that life was mov- 
ing too rapidly for the good of the commonwealth. One resident 
in a northwestern county benoaned both the tenper and the tempo 
of the day saying, "We live upon the railroads, we v/alk by steam, 
we talk by lightning." The sight of many new faces led to the 
comment, "Whole families, babies and all, are birds of passage." 

However much the bustle and the whirl of the days disturb- 
ed this social critic, the extravagance of the tine caused even 
greater concern. An example was cited of a young nan "who would 
spend $4.00, all on Saturday, to take some curly headed school 
girl buggy riding." 


v3 00D food and good fellowship were properly tested in Illi- 
nois sone two generations ago, and neither was found to be lack- 
ing, according to a newspaper account of the opening of tha 
Board of Trade Building at Peoria, December 15, 1875, which was 
celebrated by a banquet and dance. 

The nenu included two kinds of sotip, five boiled moats, 
six roast meats, five cold dishes, seven vegetables, and four- 
teen relishes, in addition to other items, such as sixteen kinds 
of pastries, fifteen dessert dishes, French coffee, and wines 
suitable for each course. 

As a finale to this festive occasion, the reporter wrote, 
"The tables were cleared away, and then there was dancing; — old 
time waltzes, Virginia reels, Monnie Musk, lancers, polka, schot- 
tische, and quadrilles." 

Page Fort y-F our 

Illinois Historical Anec&ot 



ET'S go to a stereoscopic show tonightl" 

Such an invitation was probably joyfully received oy naid- 
ens who were asked out for an evening' s entertainment before the 
days of motion pictures. 

Traveling stereoscopic museuns that often featured color- 
ful scenes from all parts of the world offered popular diversion 
for many Illinois communities in early tines. One stopping in 
1890 at Cambridge, Henry County, was said to have been unusually 
well attended during its stay. A local newspaper then described 
the museum as "one of the grandest things that ever struck this 
part of the country." 



HEN a number of Illinois women organized a club at Cantrall 
in Sangamon County shortly after the close of the Civil War, one 
of their announced purposes was to devise means of securing 
funds to build sidewalks throughout the village. 

It seems that the immediate concern of members, however, 
was not to aid in beautifying the city, but to save wear and 
tear on long skirts that were in style at the time. Their wear- 
ers had discovered that these trailing garments were being seri- 
ously affected by the unimproved paths. 

So successful were the efforts of the women in this con- 
nection that their organization has been prominent ever since in 
civic improvements. 

Page Fort y-F i v e 

Illinois Historical Anecdot 


I K the early period of the development of Illinois, misde- 
meanors were occasionally punished by church trials. Session 
houses were annexed to some churches, and here the ministers 
with the deacons and the elders would pass judgement en erring 

Records covering the years 1841 to 1846 of a church at 
Hopewell tell of a member who was ousted for shooting a coon on 
Sunday. In the course of the trial, testimony showed that the 
animal was stealing grain at the time from the preacher's corn 
crib. This evidence did not soften the decision of the judges, 
but presumably the marksman regained his good standing after 
showing that he could reserve his shooting for approved occa- 



N Illinois coal miner, seeking his fortune in Ear.ilton Coun- 
ty 50 years ago, did not find the wealth he hoped for, but did 
secure several woolen blankets which are reported to be in good 
shape after 40 years of service. 

According to historical records he came to the county at a 
time when it was being boomed as a rich coal mining area. He 
secured employment, and was paid for his Work, not in money, 
which was somewhat scarce at the time, but in long wearing wool- 
en blankets. 

It seems that in this respect he was more fortunate than 
he perhaps realized since many of the miners there had to aband- 
on their claims when the rich coal producing areas of Frarlclin 
and Saline counties wore develooed. 

Pa g e Fort y-S i x 

Illinois Historical Anecdote 


I N the early part of the eighteenth century, inhabitants of 
the Illinois country paid one hundred tines as nuch for goods 
nade in New Orleans as did the residents of France. Tho reason 
seems to have been that it was easier and cheaper to move goods 
across the ocean than through the American wilderness. 

River craft in uge at the tine were undependable for the 
transportation of merchandise in large quantities, as they were 
snail, light, and easy to capsize. Since the boats usually had 
no covering, goods were frequently danaged by exposure to the 
elements. When in 1733 a covered boat, 43 feet long and 9 feet 
wide, was launched on the Mississippi, it was considered to be a 
narked improvement but even with the new type of carrier, tho 
trip up stream consumed 70 days. Land routes offered even great- 
er disadvantages because of danger of attack by Indians and un- 
certain road conditions. 



ROWNING- persons nay grasp even at straws in an effort to 
save themselves, it is said, but in 1892 two Illinois bachelors 
staked their entire future on straws. 

In that year, it is related, a beautiful widow of St. Clair 
County, unable to make a choice, permitted her two ardent suit- 
to draw straws for her hand in marriage. After the lot was cast 
in this manner, the wedding, it was announced, would occur in a 
short time. 

Page Fort y-S even 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 



lLMOST one-third of Illinois' income in 1825 was spent for 
the entertainment of Lafayette, according to historical data. 
The general feeling, seems to have been that nothing was too good 
for the brilliant young Frenchman, who had crossed the ocoan to 
aid the Colonists in their struggle for independence. 

Although generosity was unbounded toward Lafayette, the 
legislators were extremely careful in making other appropria- 
tions. The allotment of $600 a year for salaries to five cir- 
cuit judges had been strongly criticized in 1824. Consequently, 
in 1825, when $6,475 was allowed for Lafayette's reception, cir- 
cuit judges were not appointed and existing superior judges were 
assigned to double duty at their regular pay of $800 per annum. 



OME unusual combinations of activities were followed by 
early Illinois settlers. A man might be, for exacplc, an army 
officer, a public official, and a hired man, all at the same 

In letters describing the English settlement at Albion in 
1820, one writer told of talking to a hired plowman. The manner 
and speech of the laborer were surprisingly refined and above 
reproach. It was discovered that he was a colonel of militia 
and a member of the legislature, as well as a hired hand. 

Page Fort y-E i g h t 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 


I 8 1879, archery made a bid for the title of "the great Amer- 
ican game" during the first National Archery Tournament, which 
was held in Illinois. One writer of the tine asserted that base- 
ball was too violent and a game in which women could not parti- 
cipate. "Archery," he stated, "deserves to outrank all other 

Still other arguments were advanced to place archery on 
the sports pinnacle. It struck "the happy medium, affording 
ample pedestrian exercise in recovering sidelong arrows, bring- 
ing into full play the muscles of the ams and chest, and withal, 
cultivating grace of attitude and movement beyond any other 
sport in the list." 

During the tournament, in the old White Stocking Park at 
Chicago, $3,000 in prizes were distributed among about 100 con- 


WHEN three Illinois pioneers started on a trip to Missouri in 
1833, they transported their three horses across the Mississippi 
river on two canoes. After constructing a platform resting on 
the canoes and closing it with a railing, the resourceful men 
set out from Mill Creek near Quincy. The unique craft safely 
transported its passengers and equipment to the v/est bank of the 

Page Fort y-N i n 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 



,N Illinois steer was hailed before a "regular court" of 
Adams County residents in 1828 because it "cculd not be res- 
trained in any ordinary enclosure," according to an historical 
account of the tine. 

When the evidence had been weighed the steer stood con- 
victed of "annoying the community" even to a point where for- 
bearance no longer was considered to be a virtue. As a result, 
it was ordered that the animal "be slaughtered and properly 
dressed upon a given day and the beef divided per capita among 
the families of the neighborhood." 

Even the hide finally was accounted for. It was made into 
a belt for use in the local grist mill. 



S late as 1892, timber v/olves seriously menaced livestock in 
some parts of the state. According to a Carthage news item of 
the time, farmers in Hancock County, who had organized a camp- 
aign to rid the area of them, found much difficulty in getting 
dogs to attack the hunger-crazed creatures. Forest fires had 
driven the animals south along the ice on the Mississippi River. 

Pago Fifty 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 


L ETTERS written by Illinois pioneers shovr that they took de- 
light in the difficulties of making hones in a new land and had 
little patience with pity expressed for then by their solicitous 
friends "back East." 

In 1839, an early St. Clair County settler warned a friend 
that a nan "who sits like wax-work for two hours over the sane 
page of his ledger can't possibly live here." He admitted with 
evident pride that he had waded kneep-deep in nud all the way 
fron the county seat to his farn and that he could see daylight 
through "the windward side" of his log house. 

However, he added, it is sone thing for a nan to bo "non- 
arch of all he surveys; it is something to have overcome diffi- 
culties." He countinued by observing, "Take a city chit, who 
wears a ring and whiskers enough for a bear and a flash coat 
worth $50 and exhibit hin to a genuine boy of the woods, and the 
latter would deal as gently with hin as with a young opossun, 
and as nuch wonder at his prettiness." 



IEFOEB Illinois villages, towns, and cities adopted numbers 
and names for streets, useful but souewhat indefinite addresses 
were commonly to be found in early directories. When Moline is- 
sued its directory for 1868-69, one resident's home was given as 
"House at mill near Henry," and another's was "House near Hunt- 
oon' s backyard." 

Page Eift y-0 n e 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 



ANY Illinois horsewomen so greatly disliked fiding side- sad- 
dle in the early 1870's that serious efforts were aade to adopt 
a wide skirt with "an abundance of drapery on each side of the 
horse." Protests arose because of the nuuber of accidents that 
had occurred and the question was frequently asked, "Why should 
not a girl ride exactly as her "brother rides?" 

A correspondent to a newspaper of the time wrote, "One 
never knows when our daughters are seated on a horse starting 
off in gay spirits with a cavalier, whether we shall ever again 
see them alive. The number of accidents is relatively so large 
that a parent is necessarily in a chronic state of anxiety every 
moment a daughter is gone." 


I LLINOIS society was amazed and thrilled about 60 years ago 
with the introduction of roller skates. A pioneer in this sport, 
which is still popular in many areas, visited the leading towns 
in the state during October and November, 1376, giving demonstra- 
tions of his skill on rollers and instructing novices in the new 

By 1880, roller skating had become the vogue and magnifi- 
cent rinks had been built. Newspaper accounts declared that 
this amusement was more popular than ballroom dancings One edi- 
torial stated, 'It is the proper amusement of our intellectual 
and social century." 

Page Fif t y-T w o 

Illinois Historical Anecdote 



'OGGY lessons, such as "a bone should be gnawed and not chew- 
ed," might have been in order one morning in 1843 when an Illi- 
nois schoolmaster began his day's work. Assembled before him 
were 20 children and 40 dogs. Indeed, the number of dojs may 
have been more. In a letter telling of early school days in De 
Kalb County, the writer confessed that he had found difficulty 
in making an exact count. "I think" , he said, "there v/ere not 
more than 40." 



'TOURS a period of four years, 1778-1782, when Illinois was a 
county of the Commonwealth of Virginia, it embraced a territory 
far larger than most persons of the time realized. Indeed, it 
seems to be doubtful if even legislators in the eastern common- 
v/ealth had more than a general idea of its size. 

When the Virginia General Assembly met Dec. 9, 1778, it 
officially recognized the success of the George Rogers Clark ex- 
pedition and passed an act whereby Illinois county was created. 
This new governmental unit included "all the citizens of the 
Commonwealth who are already settled or, shall hereafter settle 
on the western side of the Ohio." 

In 1784, the Continental Congress accepted the offer of 
Virginia to cede this immense area to the United States, and as 
a result created the Northwest territory on the basis of an ord- 
inance drawn up by Thomas Jefferson. 

Page lift y-T h r e e 

Illinois Historical Anecdote 


1 N these days when several Illinois cities have enough hotels 
to entertain thousands of delegates to conventions, it is not 
easy to appreciate fully the sense of pride felt by civic lead- 
ers in 1847 when Chicago entertained the River and Harbor con- 
vention. Over 20,000 persons carae to the state as visitors, and 
of this number 10,000 were delegates to the great meeting. 

In view of the undeveloped condition of nation-wide trans- 
portation at that time, the convention established another re- 
markable record by bringing representatives from 16 states. 


r LLINOIS fish are a lively lot of follows who not only try 
their best to avoid being taken in "by hook or by crook," but 
also turn a cold fin quickly on the introduction of foreigners 
to their shores. 

In a study once made by experts concerning the likes and 
dislikes of underwater inhabitants of the state, the conclusion 
was reached that little if any improvement among the fish could 
be gained by stocking Illinois waters with now species. 

No argument was advanced to explain why the Illinois fish 
seem to be clannish. Evidence simply goes to show that they reo- 
ognize when they are well treated and prefer not to change their 
present living conditions. 

Page P if t y-F our 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 



HOOTING matches in which expert riflemen competed for prizes 
of quarters of beef drew scores of contestants in central Illi- 
nois during the 1870s and 1880s. 

Settlers in Montgomery Coxuity were especially proud of 
their skill with rifle or shotgun, A challenge was issued in 
1878 to the crack shots of Macoupin, Christian, and Bond Count- 
ies, in which they were asked "to cone to Killsboro and take a 
few lessons in the art of knocking the "bull's eye with every 

Rules called for a distance of 40 yards off hand or 60 
yards with a rest. Prizes were generally four quarters of "beef 
for the four high marksmen and a silver cup for the winning team. 

All shooting, however, was not confined to these contests 
as game was plentiful and the picneors were able to demonstrate 
their ability to use either the old cap and ball rifle or the 
new breach-loading guns, which were becoming popular. One re- 
cord shows that Feb. 18, 1878, 2,300 pounds of rabbit were ship- 
ped from Hillsborc to St Louis, and the Hillsborc paper com- 
mented that "it wasn't a very good day for rabbits either." 



GROUP of Illinois workmen who once started out to drill a 
well ended up by unearthing a noteworthy collection of prehist- 
oric life in Scott County, near Deer Lick Spring. They uncov- 
ered bones of a mastodon and other prehistoric animals, among 
them tusks of an extinct species of buffalo. 

Page F i f t y-F i v e 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 


I N the early period of the development of Illinois, meat was 
often less expensive than fat used for candles. Records show 
that sometimes the price of candle fat was 10 cents a pound and 
that hogs frequently sold for as little as $4 per one hundred 
pounds dressed. 

Early settlers often would have from 60 tc 100 pigs run- 
ning wild about their land until butchering time. Identifying 
notches, or marks, were cut in the ears so as to separate one 
man's hogs from another's sine© the porkers commonly wandered 
freely about the neighborhood. 


|F an Illinois bridegroom ever becomes impatient over the few 
days of waiting required by marriage license laws of his state, 
he may be consoled by learning that in 1829 one man walked 160 
miles to get a marriage license at Peoria, 

On the other hand, if the bridegroom must watch his pes- 
nies, he will be somewhat saddened to be informed that according 
to an account of early years in Vermilion County, bride and bride- 
groom merely drove to the nearest official, who married then at m 
outlay of not more than a "Thank you, squire," or, "Much obliged, 
Mr. Dominie." 

Page Fift y-S 

Illinois Historical Anecdote 


VV HEN rural free mail delivery was established in 1900, a few 
merchants in a number of Illinois towns were somewhat concerned 
about effects of the new service on their trade with farmers. 
As weekly and semi-weekly trips to town for mail meant purchase 
of merchandize, business men were afraid that free rural deliv- 
ery would keep farmers at home and thereby reduce trade in vil- 
lages and towns. However, business continued to be as good as 
ever, and the new system proved popular with both merchants and 

Many first mail routes were about 25 miles long, with an 
average of 100 families to a route. Eoads usually were bad dur- 
ing winter, and sometimos a mailman did not get home with his 
horse and buggy until well in the night. 



HEN an Illinois pioneer suffered an attack of inflaamatory 
rheumatism while on a hunting trip in 1827 and was unable to 
walk, ho began to ride overland in his canoe. 

After his friends had harnessed a horse to the canoe and 
placed him in it, he began the homeward journey from Kankakee 
Marsh to a trading post on the Iroquois River. He soon found 
the trip too taxing and passed a Winter night outdoors until 
material for a litter was obtained. 

Page Fift y-S even 

Illinois Historical Anecdote 



N early traveler in Illinois was impressed greatly by the in- 
terest that pioneers showed in law. In the course of his trips 
he noted that frequently people would resort to legal procedures 
even "on the most trifling occasions." 

He cited an instance of this interest among the residents 
in the vicinity of English Prairie in 1821 and 1822, when law 
suits were started "for a piggin or pail, of the value of 25 


i F any one had prepared a handbook for architects in Illinois 
during pioneer times, he doubtless would have included much of 
the advice that was then common among home builders. Many per- 
sons believed that work on building a house should not be start- 
ed on a Saturday if the owner wished to be spared constant trou- 
ble during its construction. Others held that a gate should not 
be built closer to a house than 15 feet in order to avoid bad 

For added protection, it was held that a horseshoe should 
bo placed in the brick work of the chimney, so as to close every 
avenue of entrance to evil spirits. 

Page Fift y-S i g h t 

Illinois Historical An sedates 


»F Illinois waters are to yield really large fish, it seems 
that they will need more skillful fisher folk or hungrier snap- 
ping turtles. Experts in the "weighs" of fish say that at least 
50 pounds of fish can be taken from every acre of water, hut 
actually only two pounds per acre can be credited to the 300,000 
anglers who annually take out licenses to use hooks and linos. 

Snapping turtles, it is said, do much better than that, 
but since they do not apply for licenses, exact figures cannot 
be stated. The State Natural History Survey has concluded that 
Illinois lakes and streams now have too many fish to produce 
large fish, since fish to grow large need plenty of elbow room. 

Page Fift y-K i n e 

Illinois Historical Anecdot 


Vv/HEN Illinois was a territory few luxuries were found, and in- 
deed ordinary necessities were sometimes noticeably absent. An 
instance of this condition is related in connection with tho 
wardrobe of a territorial legislator from Union county, who, 
after his election in 1811, was too poor to dress himself prop- 
erly for his place among the lawmakers. 

Kind hearted women of his constituency, however, found the 
answer to his problem. They made him a bob-tailed coat and a 
long pair of leggings in which he appeared during most of tho 
legislative sessions. 



OPULARITY of the bicycle in tho "gay nineties" had a great 
deal to do with the improvement of Illinois highways. In 1892, 
the League of American Wheelmen asked the legislature to appro- 
priate $10,000,000 for the improvement of state highways. The 
attorney for the Wheelman stated that Springfield would be visi- 
ted "in force" at the next session of the legislature, and that 
the cyclists would "do their best to interest the farmers who will 
derive the most benefit, to rally to the support of the measure. 11 

Page Sixty 

Illinois Historical Anecdote 


I N 1820 when the government of Illinois was moved from Itas- 
kaskia to Vandalia, a distance of about 100 miles, all the offi- 
cial records were carried in one small wagon that had "been pur- 
chased for $25. 

This incident affords a striking contrast to the task of 
engineers who were laying plans for the new State Archives 
Building at Springfield in 1935. In order to care properly for 
the vast accumulation of documents they decided to sink caissons 
35 feet to bed rock to support the weight of 5800-six drawer 
files with a capacity of 1,400,000 cubic feet of records. 



IT Illinois historian has discovered that in territorial days 
the word of a bridegroom had to be as good as his bond, or else 
he lost $500. An early law, it is said, required a bond of that 
amount from any man who had promised to marry, and if he failed 
to be present at the ceremony he forfeited the money. The same 
historian found that the bond had to be posted and the license 
secured three months before the announced wedding day. 

Pag e Sixt y-0 n o 



Illinois Historical Anecdotes 


| N the early days of tho development of Illinois any property 
owner who wished to keep wolves off his land had only to build a 
railroad around it. Farmers whose livestock had been harrassod 
by those animals learned to their surprise that the wolves wore 
afraid to cross iron rails. 


I ATRICK HENRY, the famous statesman and orator of the Ameri- 
can Revolution, for a time governed the Illinois area. However, 
his tenure of office began 40 years before Illinois became a 

In 1778 the county of Illinois which included the terri- 
tory now tho states of Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin, Indiana, 
and Ohio, was organized and jurisdiction over it was the respon- 
sibility of Virginia. Since Patrick Henry was at that time Gov- 
ernor of Virginia, he also became the first governor of Illinois 

A newspaper, somo years ago, in pointing out the service 
of Patrick Henry to the state, observed that the original Illi- 
nois County was "probably the largest county ever organized. 

Page Sixt y-T h r e e 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 



TREAMLINED steers met with but little approval from writers 
in Illinois agricultural journals 60 years ago. A survey of the 
best animals for fine meat favored those that were "built on the 
plan of a parallelogram," that is, the "rectangular type." This 
kind of construction, it is said, gave encouragement for hearty 
appetites that call for thick steaks. 


I I UCH house painting during pioneer days in Illinois was done 
only when itinerant painters, who "ate their way through," came 

Many houses in Belleville were reported by Charles Dickens 
on his visit thoro to have had "singularly bright doors of rod 
and yellow, for the place had been lately visited by a traveling 

However, a chronicler of the times, maintains that the 
painter "had not yet oaten his way through, or to our town." It 
was "the old French village, at the foot of the bluffs," that 
Dickons should have mentioned in this connection, ho contends. 

Page Sixt y-F our 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 


I II 1829 an. Illinois traveler with $1.00 in his possession re- 
ceived hoard and lodging during part of his journey because no 
one could change his money. He came down the river from Galena 
to Quincy in a skiff, and from there set out on foot for his 
home in Edvardsville. He traveled as far as Carroiton in Greene 
County hefore he found a person with enough money "to break" his 

Another early traveler who had settled in Adams County in 
1829 once related that he had made the round trip from Quincy to 
a point in Kentucky on 75 cents, "and didn't sponge or beg." 


WhSN Illinois soldiers in pursuit of Hack Hawk, Chief of the 
Fox and Sauk Indians, entered the lake region "between Dixon and 
Galena in 1832, it is said that they came upon "trembling lands / 
which quivered beneath the weight of a single man but were strorg 

enough to support an army. 

One historian points out that the turf, which was from six 
inches to a foot in thickness, rested upon water and beds of 
quicksand. In some places it was so thin that horses would fall 
through to the shoulder yet they were pulled out with but little 

Page Sizt y-F i v 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 


L ESS than fifty years ago, Illinois persons desiring excite- 
ment characterized by gun display did not need to follow Horace 
Greeley' s advice about going west. He could find it without 
much difficulty along the Illinois River as rival owners of 
boats attempted to reduce competition by marksmanship* 

Feuds between river boat captains were not uncommon. On 
one occasion, for example, the captains of two rival boats made 
news in 1892 when the "placid waters between Peru and Peoria" 
resounded to rifle shots as a climax to disputes over river traf- 



HEN counties were first organized and courts established in 
northern Illinois, residents were so few that almoot every set- 
tler was pressed into jury service. Sessions were usually both 
informal and brief. 

An early chronicler relates that when the first circuit 
court of Putnam County convened in the home of a settlor near 
the present site of Hennepin, nearly all the residents were <n 
either the petit or the grand jury. 

Court met for a single day and brought in only one indict- 
ment, which was for bigamy. The historian noted that" the jury 
regarded it unfair for a man to have two wives, while most of 
them were without any." 

Page Sixt y-S i x 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 



ESIDENTS in southern Illinois living along the highway be- 
tween Albion and. East St. Louis were confronted in 1822 by a 
most unusual hardship. Their hogs depended for food principally 
on acorns and berries during the days of late summer and fall. 
Suddenly a vast flock of pigeons flew into the area and soon 
cleared the fields of nearly all these items of food. As a re- 
sult, many hogs died of starvation. 


A\ CCORDIKG to the recollections of an early Illinois resident, 
any one in the state during the early years of its development 
who uttered an oath in the presence of a justice of the peace 
could be fined one dollar. However, if the offending person was 
sorry enough the fine might be remitted. 

An early chronicler tells of an incident that ha : ruened in 
1821 at Greenville in which a justice of the peace while walking 
with another justice of the peace is said to have uttered an 

Thereupon, it is related, he w:ent immediately to his of- 
e to enter a fine against himself. Upon his return! he is 
orted to have remarked to his companion, "Having discovered 
per signs of contrition, I am now considering the propriety 
remitting the fine." 



proper signs - 

of remitting the fine. 

Page Sixt y-S 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 



S late as 75 years ago, Illinois mercantile and manufactur- 
ing houses depended largely on oxen for " transportation and 
transfer purposes." Oxen brought from $100 to $200 each on the 
open market, and some companies made a business of renting teams. 
In Quincy during 1872, thay were hired, presumably for a day, at 
the "rate of seven dollar e a yoke," one record showed. 


L ARLY residents of Illinois who settled first on timbered 
lands, disliked cutting down their own trees so long as stands 
of timber still remained on non-resident or "speculators' lands." 

For example, an early resident of Douglas County was said 
to have cut down in 1876 a large tree on his own land "in the 
exact s-pot where he had cut a similar one thirty-six years be- 

A chronicler of the times, citing the incident, remarked 
that timber owned by residents "not-withstanding the large quan- 
tities used for fuel and improvement," held its own while obhor 

timber did not. 

Page Sixt y-E i g h t 

Illinois Historical AnecdoteB 



ANY of the first settlers in Illinois felt so poorly educa- 
ted that they believed any one from the East could teach in 
their schools "better than local talent. 

However, from Macon County comes the story of an "import- 
ed" teacher who proved this opinion to he an error. Having for 
two days attempted to solve a simple arithmetic problem, the 
schoolmaster at last informed his pupils that, "though the solu- 
tion reached was not right, it was near enough right to do, and 
let it go at that." 



EARS "before Illinois became a state, pirates preyed on ship- 
ping along the Mississippi River. Historians relate that the 
marauders frequently hid in bluffs and fell upon freight and 
passenger boats to capture cargo and to terrify crews and trav- 

Stories are still told of bold forays from shores in the 

vicinity of Grand Tower in southern Illinois. Here ruffians had 

their way until vessels sent by the Spanish soon drove them out 
of the area. 

Page Sixt y-N i n e 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 



RAFFIC hazards that could not be regulated by ordinary "stop 
and go" methods presented difficulties to many Illinois communi- 
ties during the early period of their development. 

For some time herds of cattle being driven through the 
streets presented the greatest menace. Residents frequently com- 
plained that their lives were being endangered by the way "reck- 
less herders" permitted animals to wander "hither and thither" 
as they moved along the highways. 



ARLY Illinois barges were commonly either set adrift or sold 
as fuel after they carried their cargoes to markets at New 
Orleans because to bring them back upstream cost more than to 
build new ones. 

Ordinary flat bottomed boats of 15 tons capacity could be 
purchased in those days for about $100 according to one histori- 
cal account. On the trip downstream they could be managed gen- 
erally by a crew of three men, each of whom received close to 

However, the return trip, even without cargo, generally 
required the services of six men. If the river was high it took 
about 25 days to go from New Orleans to Havana. 

Page Seventy 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 


I IT many Illinois households during the early years of the 
state's history, newspapers played an important role in educa- 
tion, one historian has pointed out. 

After "being carefully read by the elders, the journals 
were saved until enough had been accumulated to cover the walls 
of a cabin. Then they were pasted up in the manner of wallpaper. 

To them the children often turned during the long periods 
when weatner kept them indoors, and with the help of their par- 
ents they not only learned the alphabet but advanced in their 
study of reading. 


^) CARCELY a farming community in Illinois but has had, or 
still has, its v;ell known "water witch," who, using a forked 
twig, determines the spo t where well drillers should begin work. 

A remarkable instance of "water witching" is related con- 
cerning Coles County in 1872, when the "witch" not only chose 
the exact spot for a well on the highest knoll between Charles- 
ton and Marshall, but even predicted that water would be found 
at a depth of 16 feet. 

An oye-witness reporting to an agricultural journal said, 
"On digging to this depth, we found water sufficient for all the 
stock on any three farms in Coles County." 

Page Seven t y-0 n e 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 


I N the opinion of many persons interested in aviation an Illi- 
nois man is largely responsible for creating the present day 
enthusiasm for flying. He was Captain Thomas B. Baldwin, who 
was born in Quincy in 1861, and he, it is said, held the first 
dirigible pilot's license as well as the second airplane pilot's 
license in the United States. 

His amazing demonstrations of the possibilities of flying 
and his breath-talcing parachute jumps during three sensational 
trips around the globe and at the St. Louis World' s Fair awaken- 
ed the minis of the public to the promise of high achievements 
for travel in the sky. 



HAT the family sofa iaay accumulate a surprisingly varied as- 
sortment of articles over a period of years is established by 
the experience in 1890 of an Illinois upholsterer who was called 
upon to repair one of them. 

According to a news item of the time, articles brought to 
light from between the back and the cushions of the old sofa in- 
cluded three mustache combs, four button hooks, 34 wads of chew- 
ing gum, ton suspender buttons, 27 cuff buttons, 217 pins, 13 
needles, eight cigarettes, four photographs, 47 hairpins, 15 poker 
chips, six pocket knives, 28 matches, and some cloves. 

Page Sevent y-T w o 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 


I N a detailed account of an Illinois prairie fire, an early 
resident of the state told of its progress being marked with a 
roar "like the voice of seven thunders" and clouds of smoke that 
obscured the sun. 

Occasional whirlwinds traveled along the line of fire and 
tongues of flame cracked like the explosions of field artillery. 
Any effort to control it, except at the edges, were useless and 
it raged for seven miles until it reached the Spoon River. 

During the early days of settlement, such fires wore fear- 
ed even more than in later times, since then help was far away 
and much hardship had to be endured before equipment could be 
replaced in farm and home. 

Page Sevent y-T h r o e 

Illinois Historical Anecdote 



ONEY was sold at auction in Illinois and other Midwestern 
states about fifty years ago, it is said, to meet the demands of 
speculators, who sought quick and largo returns from their funds. 

A newspaper reporter of the times told of money buyers who 
were willing to pay as high as 28 per cent for cash. Bidders 
not uncommonly vied for the control of large amounts, and auc- 
tions were described as "very spirited." 


\j Y 1892, the buffalo had passed out of the Illinois sceno. 
Fences, by that time, enclosed nearly all farms, and roving ani- 
mals were no longer the familiar objects they had been for dec- 

A record of the period describes the efforts of a farmer 
near Quincy who tried to keep a pet buffalo within bounds. The 
animal showed a rather pleasant disposition while it was young, 
but with the passing of years a spirit of independence and dar- 
ing took the place of docility. One day, after reaching a height 
of five feet, four inches, and a weight of 1400 pounds, it start- 
ed in a hurry for no place in particular. 

In time, the owner caught up with it, and the buffalo soon 
ceased roaming forever. 

Pago Seven t y-F our 

Illinois Historical Anocdot 


ROUGH country and short grub," was the terso description of 
Illinois in early times by a pioneer circuit rider preacher of 
Pope County. With cournge equal to the hardships encountered, 
the circuit rider preacher told of riding on horseback for four- 
teen miles, conducting two services and then helping his host to 
beat the meal for the dinner "bread. Later in the day, he travel- 
ed on several miles through a cypress swamp and preached again 
in the evening. 

For the year's work, he received in cash $62.50. 


I N 1821, one Illinois community had a postmaster hut no posfr- 
office. In that yoar the headquarters of mail for Montgomery 
County seems to have been in tho hat of the postmaster. Each 
Saturday he traveled from Hillsboro to Greenville, about 20 
miles, to pick up the mail, and as no official nail route had 
been designated in the area, he had to pay his expenses. In 
those days postage for a letter sent from Illinois to Boston or 
New York cost 25 cents. 

Page Scvent y-F i v e 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 



WEED called "the devil's shoe-string" and the sharp-toothed 
badger aided Illinois lead miners in the vicinity of Galena dur- 
ing the "boom years of 1827-29, according to the account of an 
early prospector. 

He points out that the weed sometimes sank its roots in 
rock crevices 30 feet below the surface, and "busy badgers bur- 
rowed far for those succulent morsels. Careful inspection of 
the oarth around the entrances to thoir burrows somotimos re— 
vealod evidencos of the prized Galena ore, tho principal source 
of lead, and holpod miners to find lucrative diggings. 


I 5 pioneer days when ladies' hats were called bonnets, spring 
brought not only blossoms but sulphur f-umes to many an Illinois 
community. A record of special interest to historians of the 
social scene on those early days calls attention to a little 
known industry of the time in which fumes mingled with balmy 
winds to make men catch their broath and comment volubly on the 
dictates of fashion. 

The bonnets of those times ordinarily had to be rebuilt 
and bleached if they were to enhance the beauty of their owners 
for another season. This work was done in shops that used strong 
sulphur applications to achieve results. Fumes arising from tho 
process brought forth many complaints from residents. 

Page Sovent y-S i 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 


IN pioneer Illinois, labor was often difficult to find for 
any but the usual activities of settlement. An example of short- 
age of workers may bo noted in the problem confronting commis- 
sioners of Jo Daviess County who had appointed an overseer for a 
65-tiile stretch of road on tho Galona-Peoria highway. At that 
time only six cabins had been built along the route, with 15 or 
20 miles between and but four men could bo found to aid the 
overseer in maintaining and improving the road. 


/\ N Illinois ox in tho early days of settlement achieved a 
considerable local reputation as a watch dog. According to an 
account of tho times, the animal developed an almost uncanny 
sense of the presence of Indians. It would roar and run even 
beforc they could be seen approaching. 

In view of this peculiarity, its owner, a Bureau County 
pioneer, used it to aid the slumbers of his family and himself. 
At night, he put a boll around the neck of the ox and tethered 
the animal near the house, confident that if Indians came near, 
tho annimal would be aware and by jumping to its feet sound tba 

Page Sovent y-S e v o n 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 


I N 1819 when one Illinois traveler reached his destination 
"apparently on nothing" he created a sensation. The scene of 
his journey was the Mississippi between Alton and St. Louis, 

According to one account noted, the nan constructed a raft 
of driftwood on which ho set out, not reckoning with the middy 
waters! of the stream. Within a short time so much sediment had 
piled up on the raft that it sank, "because of the weight, some- 
what bolow the surface. 

However, the traveler was undaunted. He remained on the 
raft with his head and shoulders above water. Onlookers from 
the river hank at St. Louis watched him approach shore in utter 
amazement, and could not believe the evidence of their eyes, un- 
til he came into shallow water and they were able to see the 
manner of his voyage. 


|T seems that early governors of Illinois received many re- 
quests from the electorate requesting attention to relatively 
unimportant matters. An example of this has been noted in an 
account of a demand made by the postmaster of a village, asking 
Governor Edwards, in 1825, to make a special point of watching 
the road near Vandalia. The object was to learn if the person 
who had contracted to carry the mail was performing his duty 

Page Sovent y-E i g h t 

Illinois Historical Anocdotes 


I N 1842 when tho English novolist, Charles Dickens, visited 
Illinois, few porsons in tho state knew of his presence. A rec- 
ord of tho tirao shows that his stay in Belleville, St. Clair 
County, was unknown to tho people of that section until tho 
weekly newspaper of the community printed an account of the 
great author's visit. 



'TIRING tho early development of many Illinois settlements, 
years often went "by "before residents secured professional ser- 
vices that are now commonly taken for granted in nearly every 
community. Records, for example, show that over a century pass- 
ed in the life of Prairio du Pont, St. Clair County, "before it 
had a local physician, a lawyer, and a post office. Later this 
village, the "meadow of the "bridge," which is close to eight 
miles south of East St. Louis, "became known as Dupo, tho name 
that it "bears today, a contraction of its original form. 

Historical accounts also show the importance attached to 
the prosenco, in Albion, Edwards County, in 1822 of a surgoon 
who had practiced in a London hospital. It was sufficiently im- 
portant at the time to gain comment in books that were written 
for the "benefit of prospective English emigrants. 

Page Sevont y-N i n e 

Illinois Historical Anecdot 

first engine arrives 

I N the early days of Illinois when railroads wero throwing 
linos across Illinois, tho coning of the first locomotive was 
looked upon as an event of groat importance. An example of this 
is found in an account of the cngino that arrived at Belvidcre 
after the Galena and Chicago Union Railroad had completed laying 
its rails through that community in 1853. 

According to this account a student in the school not far 
from the tracks hoard the whistle of the locomotive and ran out 
to view the wonder. The schoolmaster took up the chase and pur- 
sued the "boy across the fields, Th3 writer of the account com- 
ments that perhaps tho teacher was "only too glad for an excuse 
tc see the sight himself." 



HEN residents of one Illinois community celebrated Fourth of 
July, in 1855, an anvil played an important part in the festivi- 
ties, hut jeopardized tho lives of a number of celebrants. A 
quantity of power was placed under the anvil to send it high 
into tho air. In this instance, however, the anivl split and 
portions fell among onlookers much as bomb splinters would do 
today. Fortunately, only one person was seriously injured, and 
strangely onough ho was a physician. 

Page Eighty 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 



HSU a Bingiag teacher in pioneer Illinois attempted to give 
lessens in the art of voice cultivation ho found that his pupils 
appreciated volume of sound much nore than thoy did its quality. 

An early account tells of one New England sinking caster 
who attempted ''to show how" by singing himself in a low, thin 
voice while beating tiuo. When the young people were asked to 
sing they started in by drowning out his weak tones with their 
customary vigor. 

The master was horrified but could not persuade his pupils 
to look upon his instructions with any degroe of seriousness, 
and he gave up further attempts to socuro from them results that 
harmonized with his artistic standards. 

Pago Eight y-0 n e 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 



0MB early settlements in Illinois were founded by colonists 
who agreed to make certain improvements on the land assigned to 
them within a stated number of years after their arrival in the 
state. Each person in a colony that camo to the area now known 
as Henry County "bound himself to build a house to cost about 
$200 within two years. In tho event that he failed to do so, 
his land reverted to tho colony, which paid for it at tho rate 
of $3.00 per acre. 


[OR a time early Illinois travelers in Bureau County and sur- 
rounding areas were startlod to see wild hogs roaming the coun- 
try-side. Historical records tell of hunters, who sometimes 
barely escaped with their lives, seeking tho animals with guns 
and dogs. 

To explain the appearance of these ferocious creatures, 
investigators have learned that in 1828 two Illinois drovers 
passing through Bureau County with a lot of hogs from McLean 
County lost a number of them. Within a few years theso animals 
reverted to their natural wild state and terrorized the neighbor- 
hood in which they roamed. 

When at last the hogs wore huntod down and killed, the 
successful hunters wore said to have cleared the country of 
"brutes which have been feared by the settlers as though they 
were tigers." 

Page Eighty-Two 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 



HEN changer, in dance steps were made in the 1870s, some Illi- 
nois residents became skeptical of their success. One editor- 
ial writer announced in 1876, "There is a great change in dances, 
the galop has become a gliding waltz, and the waltz has become a 
brisk exercise, a cross between the movement of legs induced by 
colic and hop-scotch set to music." 

The same writer concluded his comments by noting that the 
polka was in high favor and that the minuet was to bo danced at 
all balls and parties the following winter. 



ECORDS of pioneer days in Illinois are filled with accounts 
of the self-sacrifice shown by early school teachers, many of 
whom came into unsettled areas directly from the East. Ono 
schoolmaster after walking from Pekin to Blooming Grove in Han- 
cock County opened a school in a log building with "no floor, no 
door, and cracks all around." Ho obtained board and lodging 
with a nearby settlor for 37^ a week. Although the settler's 
home was considered to be the best in the neighborhood, it 
housed not only the owner, his wifo, and ten children, but also 
three dogs and two cats. 

Page Sight y-T h r o o 

Illinois Historical Anecdot 


r ATIE1TCE and persistence mark the life of Illinois pioneers, 
and perhaps nowhere is there more improssico proof of this than 
in the gradual development of their land holdings. When one 
family of early sottlors came to the open country of Sanga-non 
County they found an abundance of timber and great stretches of 
prairie land, covered with tall tough grass. 

At first they began to clear the timber and then they 
fenced in their prairie land. Bit by bit the sod was turned and 
the sun scorched the roots of the wiry grass. 3y the following 
year the land could be cultivated much more easily. 

Like other early groups of settlers this family was uneasy 
until it had cleared a considerable area of the prairio soil, 
since pioneers seem to have fOlt from the very first days in the 
new land that their timber holdings would soon be exhausted. 
Another cause of fear may have been their uncertainty that the 
timber would escape destruction by the froquont prairie fires. 



CENTURY ago a serious traffic problem in many Illinois cities 
was keeping in repair numerous horse troughs within corporate 
linos. Only a short time passed, however, before tho problem 
had changed to regulating the parking of automobiles so that 
horses could get near enough to the troughs to got a drink. 

A fow years ago some newspaper writers wore asking that a 
few troughs, as well as hitching posts, which were rapidly dis- 
appearing in many Illinois communities, be preserved as objects 
of historical interest. 

Page Eight y-F our 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 



OME years ago one Illinois county 'became widely known be- 
cause it was said to be the only region in the state "where the 
tillers of the soil have automobiles," Whiteside County gained 
this distinction partly because of its wide expanse of fertile 
land. However, its agricultural riches have been supplemented 
by various manufacturing communities bolow the Rock River whore 
water power is abundant. One of its prosperous river cities, 
Pulton, was named in honor of the famous inventor and engineer 
of steamboat fame. 



OWN cows in Illinois pioneer communities found a tasty mor- 
sel conveniently placed for them on stores and public buildings. 
In the days when not only cows but other inhabitants of field 
and barnyard wandered at will throughout Illinois settlements, 
cows in search for salt discovered that whitewash used on some 
buildings contained this much desired seasoning, and they eager- 
ly began to lick the structures for it» 

According to an historical account, lapping cows sometimes 
made so much noise that public gatherings were interrupted, and 
boys were commissioned to stand outside to keop the animals at a 
respectful distance. 

Pago Eight y-F i v o 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 



CHAPTER in the history of transportation in Illinois has for 
its setting the area "between Springfield and Meredosia in Morgan 
County. Here a railroad, called the "Northern Cross," was con- 
stnicted to connect these two important points. The engine, 
manufactured in Pittsburgh, was shippod by water, and haulod up 
the hank of the Illinois River at Meredosia by many oxon and 

An historian has pointed out that nearly all the available 
animals in the vicinity "were required to pull the huge iron 
thing up the- banks of the rivor, and scores of men in like act- 
ivity workod about it to placo it on the rails." Governor Dun- 
can, as well as Stephen A. Douglas, were among the notable por- 
sons present. 

Notwithstanding the construction cost of $1,850,000 and 
persistent efforts to make the line pay, after a few years it 
was auctioned for $21,000. 


Ij EFORE 1818 when Illinois was a territory, taxes were rela- 
tively light. However, money was scarce and great difficulty 
was experienced by the authorities in making collections. Ac- 
cording to early historical records, the total revenue put on 
the books for the territory during 1812-1814 was $4,875. How- 
ever one kalf of this sum finally had to be given to the sheriff 
for collection as delinquent taxes, 

Pago Eighty-Six 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 



HE of the famous "broom-corn areas of the world lies in east 
central Illinois, covering approximately the counties of Coles, 
Cumberland, Moultrie, Shelby, Jasper, and part of Sangamon. The 
principal marketing point for this important area, Mattoon, lies 
in the heart of tho region where live stock, as well as commer- 
cial corn and small grains is marketed. 

Standard varieties of "broom corn grown here reach a height 
of seven to fifteen feet. At harvest time, the great "brushes" 
at the top, sixteen to twenty-four inches long, are cut off, 
stored for drying and shrinking, and then packed in bales for 

Since broom corn production is a branch of farming that 
has not been largely mechanized, many workmen are required. An 
experienced laborer can harvest, it is said, about three fifths 
of an acre in one day. 



HEN Illinois bird fanciers flocked to Bloomington in Janu- 
ary, 1895, for tho "big poultry show," they saw nearly a thou- 
sand birds on exhibition. According to a contemporary account, 
the event was "tho first annual exhibition of the Illinois Poul- 
try, Pigeon, and Pet Stock Association," 

In the oddities section severnl exhibits caused visitors 
to marvel. Among them, it is said, were a live chicken with one 
head, two bodies and four logs; a Cornish Indian game cockorol 
that weighed over nine pounds; and a turkey that tipped the 
scales at 45 pounds. 

Pago Eight y-S even 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 


I N the days before automobiles were common, many Illinois 
residents rented "a horse and rig" by the hour. Not uncommonly 
a whole family would have a grand time seeing the countryside or 
driving around town. 

In the 1880s, accounts show, Illinois law-makers decided 
that all hired vehicles must bear license numbers and lights. 
Thereupon, a storm of protest aroso from parsons who found them- 
selves embarrassed by the new ruling, bocause they were then un- 
able to hido the fact that the carriages in which they rode wore 
hired, and not owned by thomsolves. 

However, numbering of the vehicles continued although epi- 
thets, such as "vulgar" were used to donounco the new ruling. 



LOG cabin," "Double Tulip," "Garden Wreath," "Rob Peter To 

Pay Paul," and "Joseph's Coat," may seem to be names of novels 
but to Illinois students of history, fchoy simply rcfor to 
quilt pattorns used in early communities of the state. 

Thoso pioneer designs were frequently finished during merjy 
afternoons when the women of a locality met to sew and quilt. In 
some instances the number of separate pieces used for a pattern 
ran into the hundreds. They wore often woven out of wool from 
sheep raised in the immediate neighborhood. 

Page Eight y-E i g h t 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 


I IOEEZR Illinois residents in and near Macon County are said 
to have brought with them the southern custom of doing "business 
on credit. For a while this practice resulted in good for all 
concerned, hut the time came when "wholesale credit was consid- 
ered to have had its day." 

According to an early historical account, as soon as there 
was a fringe of settlement in the heavily timbered area* a 
tradesman with a span of spanking horses and a "two-story wagon" 
stopped at the houses. There he loaded beeswax, furs, live 
chickens, and other home products, taking thorn all on credit, 
Ee agreed to sell them in St. Louis and to pay for them upon his 
return either in cash or in sugar, tea, coffee, spices, and 
other products to be found in centers of population. 

All seems to havo gone along well until a drove of hogs, 
on one occasion, was assembled and, as had been the custom, 
driven away on credit. In time the drover returned but, it ie 
said, unfortunately brought with him neither money nor goods. 
This experience, cno historian reports, taught the settlers to 
avoid the wido-open credit policy. 



EAffEER-MIKDSD Illinois residents have recently recalled an 
unusual April day in 1910. Records show that southern Illinois 
was than hit by a storm which brought hailstones as large as 
croquet balls. It is declared, indeed, that one of them hit a 
cookstove and cracked the top of it. One editor roporting the 
incident assorted "this is absolutely true," 

Page Sight y-N i 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 



OME given names of Illinois people soeia to have been affect- 
ed by changing timos. Examination of marriago records, it is 
said, show that today few instances may he found of names, such 
as Decy, Holly, Amanda, Charity, and Jemima — all fine names for 
fine folk and popular in pioneer days. 


I ASKING the family car on Main Street or around the court 
house square in any county seat town of Illinois today is some- 
what of a problem, but if the motorist has trouble in finding an 
empty stall for his machine, he may console himself by learning 
that less than 40 years ago the drivers of horse drawn rigs some- 
times experienced the same difficulties. In other words, there 
was not always room for "old dobbin" and the carriage or wagon. 

As late as 1906 a Montgomery County newspaper was calling 
attention to the lack of adequate hitching facilities for the 
farmers' horses. The courthouse square in Hillsboro was crowded 
with teams, and the hitching racks in the rear of store build- 
ings were in need of a general overhauling. In fact, the news- 
paper editor went so far as to issue a warning by saying, "If we 
want the farmers' trade we must provide for their accommodation 
with better places to tie." 

Page Ninety 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 


L XPERTS in archeological research who have made a study of 
Indian customs in Illinois are of the opinion that aboriginal 
inhabitants of this area were not only great warriors, hut also 
thirfty merchants, so to speak. 

Records show that many an Indian probably found time to 
earn an honest bead or two through trade as well as to sharpen 
battle-axes. Excavations in Massac and Pope Counties have re- 
vealed fluoride beads, Galena ore, and copper. The last two 
items are of special interest since there are no copper mines 
near these areas. 

In Fulton County, it is said that evidence of trading a- 
mong Indians was indicated also by the presence of mica pipe- 
stone, marine sholls, and a considerable number of copper ob- 
jects. Some scholars surmise that not all of this metal was 
brought down by the glaciers, but that a part of it was carried 
into the region. 


r\ BOUT 50 years ago one Illinois mother devised a unique way 
to bathe babies. The inventor lived in a home built on support- 
ing timbers over the open water. A hole was sawed through the 
porch floor, large enough to permit a mesh basket to be lowered 
by a windlass. Into the basket wont the baby, and the mother at 
the handle lowered her infant through the porch floor and into 
the stream. 

There the child splashed around to its heart's content 
until the mother turned * the handle in the opposite direction to 
haul up the baby to the floor level. An account of the time 
shows that neighbors thought the mother was very ingenious, but 
it did not record that the invention over became generally popu- 

Page ITinet y-0 n e 

Illinois Hist 




.ULES of etiquette for the "perfect whip, "now called a coach- 
man, were so important in the 1880s that Illinois newspapers of 
the period gave considerable space to the subject. 

One account emphasized that a first class driver should 
always he seated upright, head erect, and eyes well to the front. 

He was further advised not to "sit up, like a 'pig in a 
rage, 1 " and not to "bend over the foot-hoard. A special caution 
was given for rainy weather; ! 'Nevor omit to have a pair of wor- 
stod gloves about the coach to put on in the case of rain; they 
are the only things through which the reins do not slip." 



ADIES "throwing somersaults" made the news in Illinois 62 
years ago, when a very early, if not the first women's prize 
swimming exhibition in the state was hold. A reporter of the 
event described it as "novel and exciting." 

First, the participants swam from one end of the pool to 
the other. "After this," the account continued, "came the div- 
ing, jumping, and throwing somersaults from the springboards." 
Whether tho officials judged the fancy diving under the namo, 
"throwing somersaults," io not stated, but they were particular- 
ly impressed by "the graceful movements and speed of each fair 

Page Ninet y-T w o 

Illinois Historical Anecdotes 


I N the summer of 1631 when one early Illinois court was call- 
ed into session, the judge, it seems, had nothing to do but make 
a speech complimenting the county on its moral character. 

The court convened at Ottawa beneath a tree on the south 
side of the river. Grand jurors brought in no indictments, and 
the petit jury, having nothing to consider, did not even meet. 
No trials wore held. In view of those circumstances, says a 
local historian, the judge simply made a speech. 

In common with many other sections of the state, courts in 
those days frequently served only a small number of persons bo- 
cause the country was thinly settled. In 1831, Ottawa is said 
to have had but three houses, and only one house could bo found 
between that community and Joliet. 



MONG the unusual early customs in Illinois, perhaps none is 
more picturesque than a famous Spanish dance, which is still 
performed regularly, it is said, in the village of Bockemeyer, 
Clinton County. According to one account, a lighted objoct was 
attached to the clothing of the dancer, and unless his movements 
were sufficiently rapid to snuff out the blaze, serious conse- 
quences might have followed, So far, however, no casualties 
have bean reported. 

Page Ninot y-T h r e e 

3 1711 00092 7546